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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I’ve heard that more and more Americans will NOT be serving turkey this year! Millennials seem to be leading the charge/change to a more vegetarian diet, replete with seeds and nuts. Like squirrels.

Well, you can count me out – I’m a purist on “Turkey Day,” and will be assembling my famous corn bread stuffing along with plenty of sides for the main attraction. I tried talking Bob into making ravioli, but he feels his pasta needs a night all its own!

Since when did food become political? Tofurky aside, I remember my first meeting with two vegetarians in college (vegans came into being much later). They were purists, absolutists too, they didn’t wear leather shoes. I looked down at their feet, under the cafeteria table laden with plastic wrappers. Then they told me they wouldn’t use honey, unless they knew the beekeeper! In the 1970s I thought this was absurd, who would mistreat bees?

Ever since, I’ve abhorred anything in the extreme; politics, religion, whatever. I would never cook Kosher because I always ate meat on Friday! I hope you’ve seen that episode of Portlandia, the one where they are ordering dinner in a farm-to-table restaurant and they end up at the farm with the waitress!

Most of you know I’ll eat just about anything, except sushi. Raw sushi, aka bait. But it wasn’t until I read this fascinating article about the intersection of food and politics with a feminist slant that our current obsession with everything gastronomic made sense.

“…the eco-food movement, also known as the eco-gastronomy or alternative-food movement, was busy embracing the war on obesity, joining the front lines of the fight. And food became something to categorize — whole or processed, real or fake, clean or dirty — and to fear. Pretty soon almost every food and health writer I knew was dropping gluten or white sugar from her diet, then bringing it back, then dropping something else. Now that trend has gone mainstream; even my 88-year-old grandmother knows what gluten is and why half her family isn’t eating it on any given day.”  https://medium.com/s/story/how-the-eco-food-movement-mass-markets-eating-disorders-d0302e0e0b85

When we categorize a certain food as “good” or “bad” we are unleashing our inner critic and jumping on the “Oh I only try to eat (insert whatever word you like – whole, healthy, slow) food.” In the article, Virginia Sole-Smith, a self-described recovering food writer, admits that such extreme food restricting is another form of body dysmorphia. Many food writers, and bloggers as magazines and newspapers died, became nutritionists who would try to sell us some image of clean food that is linked to conservation and social justice; not just another vain attempt at losing weight through the latest diet scheme.

We can save the ozone layer if we only give up __________.

Save the ocean, only eat wild caught __________.

Once the organic farming movement joined forces with the health and wellness community, and Oprah took on cattle farmers, we were prime for a revolution. Food could cure just about anything! “The Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami, Florida, which conducts industry research, calculates that the worldwide “wellness economy” is now worth $3.7 trillion.”

The Bride and I were just discussing how easily integrative medicine, with an evidence-based practice, can slide into quackery. This was while I was drinking my chai tea, and after my T’ai Chi class!

The Flapper taught me that food is love… And So It Is… in all its pesky forms. There may be some “Toxic” chemicals you want to clean off veggies before serving – “Toxic” being the “Word of the Year.” And I was so sure it was going to be “Curate;” as in, you don’t have to be a museum director to curate things anymore.

If you haven’t watched “Salt Fat Acid Heat” on Netflix, you must do so NOW!! And for my Tuscany peeps – the first episode is in ITALY!!! https://www.netflix.com/title/80198288

Happy Thanksgiving to all y’all! Here is a picture from Italy which explains why I hope no one in our family will ever be vegan. All hail our Pecorino Cheesemaker

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What’s a Weekend?

Remember when the Dowager Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey asked her grand daughter, “What’s a weekend?” Well, this past weekend was jam-packed between our new niece’s getaway with girlfriends, to birthday parties. Bob and I took a deep breath and dove right in! You see the Bride was working in the ER and the Groom was in the Medical ICU, so we were prepared to have some super grandparenting Fun.

But first, we went out to dinner with friends. The City House is just around the corner and it’s famous for its pork belly pizza with an egg on top. I know how that sounds, but believe me it tastes divine. This particular stretch of our neighborhood is one of Ms Bean’s favorite spots; and it became our go-to morning walk once I discovered the fig tree behind the restaurant!

Turkish food was next up on Friday when our newly discovered niece rolled into town with her friends. Tamara has a joie de vivre, her smile is infectious. She told me her youngest son is playing the guitar and he can’t wait to meet the Rocker. I told her I’d meet her in the morning at the Mother Church of Country Music for a backstage tour.

Honky Tonk Row was bustling; New Englanders were in town for a game against the Titans. Veteran’s Day became almost an after thought… since I was thinking about the latest mass shooting in California at a country western bar in Thousand Oaks.

The young white man, the killer, was a Marine Vet, and one of the men he shot was also a Marine Vet.

Our newly elected (R) senator from TN responds by saying we “must” protect the 2nd Amendment…

12 people dead, and the NRA tells physicians to “…stay in their lane?” And that became the rallying cry on social media for trauma surgeons and ER docs: #ThisisMyLane.

My lane is a pregnant woman shot in a moment of rage by her partner. She survived because the baby stopped the bullet. Have you ever had to deliver a shattered baby? . What’s yours?

Gun violence is our own personal hell, our beautiful American patriotic duty to defend –  while guns send an average of 8,300 children to hospitals each and every year! https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46186510

I thanked my brothers and my Father-in-Law for their service in Vietnam and during WWII on Facebook after picking up the Love Bug from Hebrew School. I had to pass an armed guard to enter the Temple, I had to go through a metal detector to enter the Ryman the day before. Someone searched my bag. I wonder when my grandchildren will start practicing “active shooter” drills.

The Pumpkin told me he loved the weekend. But he’s conflicted because on the one hand you get to play, but also you have to clean the house! I know what you mean little guy.

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In high school, I played Adelaide to Bob’s Nathan Detroit. We were an item, 17 year old star-crossed lover-Seniors starring in “Guys and Dolls,” with the Flapper in the front row, when I sang and danced to the cutesy strip tease, “Take Back Your Mink.” Little did I know how my Mother would react to that musical comedy; mink coats had always been something of a conundrum in her life.

I remember when my step-father, Mr B, gave her a fur coat for Christmas one year. He had one of those early Zapruder movie cameras and filmed her reaction for all eternity. She twirled. She smiled radiantly. I looked on like any pre-teen, enthralled with the magic one single coat could create. This, I knew, was the epitome of making “IT” whatever it was.

It was the early 60s, little did we know what was to come.

At that time, I didn’t know the Flapper had been arrested wearing a mink coat on a NY subway in 1930. I had no idea she had been involved with one of the deadliest gangsters in NY. My Mother, the gun moll. All of this she told me later, much later as the Bride slept in her crib.

After the Bride’s birth, in the roaring 1980s when we returned to NJ, Bob bought me a decadent, dark, black mink coat, big shoulders, floor length, and all. My initials were embroidered on the inside, making me melt with pride. But, fur was beginning to be ethically unacceptable.

I wore that coat maybe twice. It was like getting to 8th grade, and finding out your class wasn’t going to DC because the previous class had embarrassed everyone.

In Cville, a friend asked me if I’d like to have the mink re-purposed. A vest? Or maybe a raincoat lined with fur? I wasn’t into doing that, and yet I couldn’t let it go. I think that beautifully decadent mink coat is in the Pod. And now, I’m not sure what to do with it, because I know I’ll never wear it again.

Maybe the Bug will want it? I remember wearing an old raccoon coat to football games in high school – it was so weird and strange. Just like me! This is us, feeding the dogs!

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Nanaing

I remember when the Flapper flew to the Berkshires from frosty MN to visit us. She wanted to give the new parents a weekend alone, a romantic escape once I’d stopped breastfeeding the tiny Bride. All I remember is that she told me the baby slept through the night, and I thought “WTF.”

It’s like the baby Bride knew I wasn’t there, so what’s the point?

OK, so I did get a good night’s sleep in a fancy hotel. It was the first time I sampled white terry cloth bathrobes for a semi-spa experience. But I always wondered if that might have happened (the full 8 hours of sleep) without a visit from her Grandmother. I guess we will never know.

This past weekend I was able to pay it forward. I was Nanasitting for the Bug and the Pumpkin while the Bride and Groom stole away to a tree house in the mountains. The circle of life continues, only it includes three dogs, one retired husband and the Great Grandparents. All in all, a modern family that pays it forward in every way.

I waited for one of them to come into bed with me.

But they never did, they slept through the night.

I let them watch cartoons with breakfast.

I told them they could eat whatever they want.

I sang Yiddish folk songs that only their Mama and aunt Mary knew.

I wore the wrong socks for a new reader.

“Nana, what’s a bitch?”

And I said, “It’s a female dog.”

And somehow I feel like I lost the the election.

SO VOTE TOMORROW PEOPLE!!!

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A Literary Lunch

How does a poet, a once upon a time science writer, become a novelist? Barbara Kingsolver, a self-described introvert, told her audience it’s a matter of luck and timing. “I am not trying to please anybody,” she said. “I write because I love to write, I write because I have to…”

Our local Parnassus Bookstore organized today’s event at the rooftop bar of a very trendy restaurant in the Gulch. Ann Patchett and Kingsolver in a conversation about the writing life – I asked a friend to go and we Lyfted down. Over a chicken sandwich and salad we learned about her farm back in VA, close to our “not-so-big-house” on the mountain. It was the start of Kingsolver’s book tour; “Unsheltered,” takes place in Vineland, NJ, a landscape that had once been considered a utopia, in another century, and she weaves us back and forth between the 1800s and today seamlessly:

“Here comes the first major novel to tackle the Trump era straight on and place it in the larger chronicle of existential threats. Donald Trump’s name doesn’t appear in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Unsheltered,” but the president prowls all through these pages. He’s “the Bullhorn,” “the tyrant who promises to restore the old order,” the “billionaire running for president who’s never lifted a finger,” the candidate who brags that “he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and people would still vote for him.” He’s the animal spirit of a political movement that’s draining the middle class, breaking the joists of civil society and pushing the planet toward ecological calamity.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/in-barbara-kingsolvers-unsheltered-trump-is-just-the-latest-threat-to-earths-survival/2018/10/16/6aebe630-d140-11e8-b2d2-f397227b43f0_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d2ff8cf353e4

Her next book will be something new, “Something that scares me to death,” a series of poems. For Kingsolver, poetry is “…the literary novelist’s art.” She explained that writing fiction is different in one sense, once she had the plot constructed in her mind, the rest is “Language.” SO poetry makes the process similar. The heart of her work is in the words, the language she uses to change a bunch of sentences (the first draft) “…from Toyotas to Ferraris!

Kingsolver speaks like an artist, she gives us “brushstrokes” of details to bring her characters and the landscape to life. In “Unsheltered” she examines what it means to hang on to the old ways of doing things, vs moving forward, embracing change. Why do some of us resist change, while others go with the flow of progress, adapt to our shifting environment?

In this new post-2016 world, where words are being weaponized to suit an autocratic, narcissistic commander-in-chief, where truth is taking a back seat in political discourse, and journalists are sent pipe bombs and being slaughtered in embassies, Kingsolver ended the afternoon imploring us to VOTE. It’s as if our lives depend on it.   IMG_4067

 

Tikkun Olam

The circle of life was evident on Sunday when our Reform Jewish congregation wrapped the Torah around the sanctuary. We were there to welcome the latest students of Torah, over twenty First Graders are beginning their path toward Tikkun Olam – the tradition of repairing the world through acts of loving kindness. When I was studying Judaism, preparing to convert in 1978, I embraced this codified concept; it would become my “raison d’etre,” although I didn’t know it at the time.

” (Hebrew for “world repair”) has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria. The term “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” (perhaps best translated in this context as “in the interest of public policy”) is used in the Mishnah (the body of classical rabbinic teachings codified circa 200 C.E.). There, it refers to social policy legislation providing extra protection to those potentially at a disadvantage — governing, for example, just conditions for the writing of divorce decrees and for the freeing of slaves.

This was why my Temple’s committee was exchanging stuffed animals for toy guns at a peace fair.

Why I would find myself writing more and more to persuade politically in a newspaper column.

Why I dragged the Bride and my niece Lucia to a Planned Parenthood rally in DC.

We arrived early on Sunday when one of the older congregants opened the Temple door asking, “Are you here for the Consecration?

“Yes, as a matter of fact!” And as we unloaded Great Grandma Ada’s fire-engine red rollator and settled  Great Grandpa Hudson into his wheelchair, I noted there was only one policeman inside; no patrol cars outside, no armed guards, not even somebody directing traffic.

The day before, our country witnessed one of the cruelest acts of evil at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A deranged gunman, shouting Anti-Semitic slurs, killed eleven elderly people and injured more, before being arrested. Yet again, media will ask why and how could this happen? And yet again I propose an answer – because of our beloved 2nd Amendment. There are more guns in our society than any other developed nation.

We don’t have more mental illness! We don’t have anymore Anti-Semitism either! Although if incidents of Anti-Semitism have increased by nearly 50% last year in the US, one could argue that our social climate has changed, that what was once whispered can now find a megaphone in platforms online and in the hate speech of certain politicians. If Mr T tells us there is evil on both sides, if he must be persuaded to speak out against Anti-Semitism by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, and if his followers believe in fake news unless it’s on FOX, where can we turn?

There is a shift in the fabric of the universe.

Brazil has elected Jair Bolsonaro as President, an extreme Right Trump-like politician “His reckless plans to industrialize the Amazon in concert with Brazilian and international agribusiness and mining sectors will bring untold destruction to the planet’s largest rainforest and the communities who call it home, and spell disaster for the global climate,” Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier said to CNN.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not run again for office in 2021, and speculation is that she may step down sooner. Saint Angela is paying the political price of keeping Germany’s borders open to migrants, stirring that nationalistic fervor, that spark that lead millions of Jews to their death in the last century. A cold chill went down my spine when I heard this news. Will Germany follow in the steps of Brazil, and the recent autocratic elections in Hungary? Will Germany elect a Trump?

While we were gathered in prayer this past Sunday, Mr T was playing the song “Happy” at a campaign rally in Indiana. He joked about his hair. There was one true thing he said, “We just don’t seem to learn from the past.” 

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La Bella Figura

Yesterday, a young man at Kroger approached us while we were self-checking out. Bob was scanning a bottle of Chardonnay as I was pulling my driver’s license out of my feed bag; TN needs to check everyone to make sure we’re old enough to drink! The guy looked at my holographic ID and smiled while he punched in a code, muttering under his breath, “Libra.”

Turns out he’s a Libra too, so we felt an instant sympatico.

Don’t tell me, it’s all hogwash, right? Most scientists dismiss the Astrological Signs as an ancient attempt to understand human behavior. But there was a period of time, back when I actually read a paper newspaper and before going to the obits first, when I’d scan my horoscope eagerly every morning.

“Libra energy enhances our social graces and turns our attention to beauty and style. In Italy, there’s an expression known as la bella figura, in which Italian natives not only dress to impress but also exhibit their brightest, best personalities when in the company of others. Libra transits help us achieve that kind of inner and outer beauty, making us feel like the fairest of them all. http://astrostyle.com/libra-horoscope/

Libra’s symbol is the scale, which really does sum me up; moderation in all things, equal justice for all, staying balanced and centered with a daily practice of T’ai Chi. But since you’ve probably either accepted or rejected your zodiac sign, I thought I’d share with you  the latest semi-crunchy personality test to hit the street: it’s called the Enneagram! Not nearly as fun as the zodiac, you only receive a number from 1 to 9, but perhaps just a tad more scientific.  https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test

And when you finish the test, let’s align our Chakras!

Turns out this Libran is a number 2, which the Bride had predicted. Also known as “The Helper,” I’m one of those people, people who NEED people. “Selflessness is their duty. Giving to others is their reason for being. Involved, socially aware, usually extroverted, Twos are the type of people who remember everyone’s birthday and who go the extra mile to help out a co-worker, spouse or friend in need.”

I guess I am La Bella Figura! After all, I was dressed up as an infant to delight my dying father.

And I accept the number 2, except for the remembering of birthdays part. I barely remember my own birthday but I get that by helping others, we are really helping ourselves to feel good. And what’s wrong with that? I honestly can’t cope with the latest news about pipe bombs trying to wipe out my party. It’s insane, has our country become one large crazy fiefdom run by the Tweets of a Cheeto?

Bob and I voted early this week, and we’re talking it up everywhere we go (ps in Nashville strangers talk to each other).

So don’t get distracted by the news, pick yourself up, take a tiny personality test, and VOTE early! It was a super sunny cold day, so I got out my fleece for the first time.

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